About me

I’m John Sandford O’Neill, a PhD student at the University of Oxford working on 3D laser printing in soft materials. My research brings together laser micro-machining and the science & technology of liquid crystals & polymers. I use a titanium-sapphire femtosecond laser to create microscale polymer structures directly inside electrically-controlled liquid crystal devices. This is of scientific interest as it opens-up a new parameter for creating microstructures with a locally-varying refractive index. This research is also of interest from a commercial/industrial perspective as it can be used to design better liquid crystal displays and optical devices. My research is currently funded by the EPSRC with industrial sponsorship from Merck.

Latest News

2nd June 2020

The International Liquid Crystal Society (ILCS) have chosen my image entitled ‘Trapped Transitions’ as their Liquid Crystal Picture of the Month! It will be featured on the ILCS homepage throughout June.

You can see other beautiful liquid crystal related images in the ILCS Gallery.

Trapped Transitions

5th May 2020

My latest paper “Electrically-tunable positioning of topological defects in liquid crystals” has been published in Nature Communications today!

I have written a “Behind The Paper” post explaining topological defects in liquid crystals, which you can find here.

The Department of Engineering Science at Oxford have written a featured news item on the paper.

Defect confinement channel
Topological defect confinement channel created with direct laser writing

31st July 2019

IET award badge

I have been announced as the winner of an Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) postgraduate research award!

You can read more about the IET award and my research in this article “Flexible screens and nanoscale printing earn national recognition for DPhil candidate” from the Department of Engineering Science at Oxford.